Birdsill Holly Restoration

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Birdsill Holly Hand Plane Restoration

First I will let you walk through the pictures after the restoration. Please step through this slide show the the rest will follow the restoration.

Now to walk through the restoration of this plane made by Birdsill Holly. It needed a little work, but it wasn’t in bad shape for a plane made sometime around 1852. Okay, maybe it had seen a little misuse, but nothing we can’t rectify.

Note the cap has been broken in several places and some very bad repair attempts.

Now for a step through if the “as found” pictures.

As you should have seen in the slide show, I’ve made a new tote, and a new cap. I did some research to try and find what they would have looked like. I matched as close as I could.

The Plane is 14 1/8″ long. 2 3/4″ wide. It has a 2 1/8″ wide Butcher blade. It weighs 5# 15oz.

This next slide show walks through the restoration.

According to Roger Smith in PTMPIA (Vol – 1 pg 23) “This [Birdsill Holly manufacturing] was the first successful venture in the manufacture of metallic planes.

I haven’t found another picture of this exact plane. There is one longer in PTMPIA, but its much longer. There are several in the “American Wood and Metal Planes, From the collection of the D’Elia Antique Tool Museum” as well, but again, not the exact plane.

If you’ve got more information, or additional pictures, I’d love to see them.

Some Additional interesting facts about Birdill Holy


Quick History of District Heating

District heating traces its roots as far back as the popular hot water-heated baths and greenhouses of ancient Rome. District systems gained prominence in Europe during the Middle Ages and Renaissance, with one system in France in continuous operation since the 14th century. Across the Atlantic, the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis began steam district heating service in 1853.

Although these and numerous other systems have operated over the centuries, the first commercially successful district heating system was launched in Lockport, N.Y., in 1877 by American hydraulic engineer Birdsill Holly, considered the founder of district heating.

In his day, Holly was widely known as an inventor and entrepreneur. He held 150 patents during his lifetime, second in number only to his friend Thomas Edison. Most of Holly’s creations involved water, pumps and power. They included the fire hydrant and first municipal system of firefighting, the water-pressure gauge, the water tap, the expansion joint and, of course, commercial central steam heating.

With the 1877 installation of the Lockport district heating system, the Holly Steam Combination Co. was born. Over the next five years, the company implemented nearly 50 systems, including one that still serves downtown Denver today.

In 1882, the business was acquired by American District Steam Co., whose investors had earlier purchased the rights for the Holly system in New York. They went on to sell hundreds more district heating systems throughout the world over the next 80 years. (American District Steam was one of the first members of the National District Heating Association, represented at the 1909 convention by W.J. Kline and C.R. Bishop.)

Holly’s memory is kept alive today not only through his many inventions, but also at a National Mechanical Engineering Heritage Site in Lockport. Near the Canal Museum in the Lockport Locks complex, there is a historical marker noting the location of the old Holly Manufacturing Co., which built products using his many inventions. Limited ruins of the firm, which once employed 500 people, remain along the north side of the canal.

Some more reading on Birdsill Holly –

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